A periodic look at singles or tracks making an impact in the pop music world
Hips don’t lie, as Shakira reminded us in her inimitable manner last year, but the male lead in the new single “Beautiful Liar” sure does. His two-timing is the catalyst for some lively verbal interplay between his two victims, who bond in their mutual betrayal. “Let’s not kill the karma, let’s not start a fight,” one suggests.
Fortunately, the victims are two of mainstream pop music’s most entertaining artists, Beyonce and Shakira, and they have fun with the grand soap-operatics of “Beautiful Liar,” whose four songwriters include Amanda Ghost, making partial amends for having co-written James Blunt’s “Beautiful.”
The single, which recently rocketed to the top reaches of the charts, opens with a piping, Middle Eastern figure, a Shakira signature that’s quickly joined by a mariachi-flavored horn-section fanfare.
The verses play out on a mid-tempo, strutting, hip-thrusting arrangement, accented by rapid, flamenco-like hand claps and guitar strums. It’s a florid setting for the two stars, whose staccato, intense vocal approach plays along with the florid scenarios: “I didn’t know about you then, till I saw you with him again,” Shakira sings earnestly.
“I walked in on your love scene, slow dancing,” Beyonce interjects.
Their conclusion that “we can live without him” is the one you root for, but how about a sequel single in which they take some real revenge?
Recorded for the deluxe edition of Beyonce’s “B’day” album (in stores Tuesday), “Beautiful Liar” has cultural as well as musical resonance, furthering Beyonce’s bilingual agenda.
The Spanish-language version of her hit “Irreplaceable” is already on the Latin charts, and the four-track digital release of “Liar” includes versions in Spanish (also registering on the Latin charts) and Spanglish, as well as an instrumental track for the karaoke-inclined.